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'Sit with Us' app shows kindness at its best
A teenage girl from California created an app that allows students to designate themselves as ambassadors and post open lunch tables where other students can sit. - photo by Erin Stewart
All of us can remember that awkward moment of walking into a crowded cafeteria, wondering where youre going to sit and believing that everyone else in the room is looking at you and judging the new depths of teenage awkwardness youve discovered while holding your pink tray.

Thats why its so awesome that a 16-year-old girl from California has created an app aimed at reducing that terrifying teenage moment. Her app, "Sit With Us," also takes aim at bullying in general, encouraging students to reach out to others and make everyone feel welcomed in school. The app allows students to designate themselves as ambassadors and post open lunch tables where other students can sit without anyone else ever knowing they used the app to find a spot.

I love that this girl is getting attention for her idea because kindness is all too often a forgotten virtue in our schools. Sure, we encourage our kids to share and not hit and include others when they are young, but somehow the virtue of kindness gets edged out over the years. Little by little, the value of kindness is replaced by achievement, success and the drive to belong.

Our young people need more kindness. They need the kind of empathy and consideration this girl had when she created this app. And they need to be applauded for their kindness as much as they are applauded for sports victories and academic achievement.

Kindness is a quality we talk about often in our home. Every morning when my children jump out of my car and head into school, I leave them with the same thought: Be kind. Be brave. Be true. Be you.

Its an admonition theyve heard so often that they will say it to me if I forget. I say it because I want kindness to be the first thing that pops into their mind when faced with tough social situations in school. I want being kind to be so second nature that they dont even think about it.

I say the other reminders because kindness takes bravery. Its not easy to be nice to the girl everyone else has ganged up on at recess. Its not easy to stand up for someone or reach out to someone who may not even be nice to you.

Kindness also takes integrity. Thats why I remind my kids to be true. They know what is right, and they need to make their actions consistent with those beliefs.

I hope my children grow into young people like this girl who created the app. I hope they achieve mounds and mounds of personal success, too, of course. I just hope they realize that kindness never stood in anyones way. Kindness only creates bridges, not walls.

How do you teach kindness to your kids?